Showing posts from September, 2011

Skywatch Friday:  New Camera

I am slowly climbing the learning curves of both a new camera and new photo editing software.  This early fall sunrise over Skagit Bay is one of my first dSLR practice shots.  There is much to learn.

West Beach Detour

From my house on South Fidalgo, I have a grand view of Whidbey Island.  I can see a sand spit over there that sticks out into Skagit Bay.  I discovered it is called Ala Spit and it is an Island County park.  I drove down this week for a close up look and to get some photos.  As it turned out, it was closed.  Apparently a project is underway to restore salmon habitat.  I missed it by two days.  The earth moving equipment can actually be seen in the long zoom photo above.  I will try again in November when the park is scheduled to reopen. Since I was on Whidbey Island with a camera hot to trot, I decided to swing over to West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  In retrospect, an unscheduled detour to West Beach is really not such a bad thing.  I wanted to check out a big rock there, just off shore.  I am told Black Oystercatchers can be spotted resting on it during the fall and winter.  I started at North Beach near the amphitheater (above) to get a shot of the Deception Pass

Padilla Stroll

I had an extra day off on Tuesday this week and decided to check out Padilla Bay .  This is considered an estuary of the Skagit River and the entire bay has been set aside as an Estuarine Research Reserve .  The river doesn't actually flow into the bay as would be expected.  I haven't quite figured out the exact relationship.  Water from the river would have to flow up the La Conner Channel to reach the bay and perhaps this is what happens.  In the past, I suspect tributaries of the river probably did flow directly into the bay.  The river is now strictly confined by diking into specific courses.  Of course, the bay is a part of the Skagit Valley watershed. Other than a good walk, I had no particular goal for this trek.   A previous visit was posted here almost a year ago.  My first stop was Joe Hamel Beach at Bay View State Park.  At low tide, the eel grass beds are exposed.  These provide valuable feeding habitat for shorebirds and nurseries for fish and crustaceans.

Skywatch Friday:  September Sunrise

September is the beginning of fog season in the Pacific Northwest.  Late summer can also bring crystal-clear skies.  Such was the case this week over Skagit Bay in northern Puget Sound.  This image is straight from the camera with no editing of color or lighting.

Bitter Cherry

Bitter Cherry ( Prunus emarginata ) Both nature and the weather are telling us that autumn is arriving in the Northwest.  Now fruiting, this is Bitter Cherry  which is a local native indigenous to my property.  It is a small tree valuable in the wildlife garden.  The tiny fruits are enjoyed by songbirds and mammals.  Through the winter, Grosbeaks will crack open the pits to extract the seeds.   Butterflies are attracted to the flowers and deer will browse on the twigs.  It is also known as Bird Cherry because of its attractiveness to avian species.  Be aware that the bark and seeds produce cyanide which is poisonous to humans.  The fruits may be eaten, but are very bitter, as the name implies.  Mine is growing at the edge of the bank to the beach, evidence that it tolerates seaside conditions.  If you are planning a garden to attract wildlife, consider the plants and trees that grow naturally in your area. Weather Statistics for August, 2011 Temperature High 75.6° F Low 4